A ryokan, or a traditional Japanese-style inn, has become a must for most travelers going to Japan.
This is completely understandable: where else in the world can you sleep on bamboo (tatami) mat floors on futon, bathe in hot springs, and be served traditional Japanese full-course meals in your room?
An amazing ryokan, though, can really impact your budget- to stay in a high-quality ryokan during a peak travel season (like during cherry blossoms or fall foliage) can set you back over $1,000 per night. While there are cheap ryokan out there, you might not find yourself getting the experience that you want.
This post, then, is dedicated to how to get the kind of experience you want that fits into your budget.
1. Plan ahead. Within the last year alone, travel to Japan has increased by about 50%. That's a huge increase, and hotels and ryokan haven't quite caught up yet. This means that accommodations book quickly, and sooner than expected. Hotels and ryokan can be booked about a year in advance, and that's probably the best time to do it.
2. Consider traveling during off season. Personally, I like doing this anyway because it means that everywhere is less crowded. This is a great option if you like temples and shrines, too, because it means you'll have a little more peaceful alone time. For ryokan, though, it means you have a better chance at booking a room, and it could be cheaper, too.
3. Don't spend every night in a ryokan. Even though it may seem like a hassle, it might be worth it to splurge just for one or two nights on a truly amazing ryokan, and to book a simple, no-frills hotel for the rest of your stay. That way, you can get the experience of it without breaking the bank.